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Food access programs support healthy families and strengthen local food systems

Use SNAP or WIC benefits at the farmers market with special farmers market nutrition programs. (Eliza Earle – Courtesy photo)

This year marks the 10th anniversary of food access programs at Boulder County Farmers Markets.

Working with Boulder County Public Health and Nourish Colorado, among other key partners and government agencies, we have expanded our food access programs over the past decade to increase access to fresh, locally grown produce for Boulder County families.

What started in 2014 as a pilot program to double the value of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) dollars in the marketplace has multiplied to address food insecurity for even more of our neighbors in our service area and the state of Colorado as a whole . Last year, Boulder County Farmers Markets’ Food Access programs supported 153 farmers, ranchers and food producers through 2023, totaling $564,007 for local agriculture. While the high cost of living, exacerbated by inflation, continues to impact local families trying to make ends meet, these programs remain a vital resource both for our community of customers and for the farmers who grow nutritious food for their neighbors.

Double Food Money (SNAP)

Customers who use SNAP benefits at the farmers market will receive a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $20 per visit, which they can spend on fresh fruits and vegetables. This means customers can purchase $40 worth of products and spend just $20 on out-of-pocket benefits. To use this program at the farmers market, go to the orange information tent, swipe your EBT card and receive physical food funds that work like cash at market vendors. To use this program in the online marketplace, simply select SNAP at checkout and your Double Up Food Bucks will be applied and deducted from your total amount due.

In addition to answering questions and purchasing merchandise, market staff at the information booth will assist customers in receiving SNAP and WIC funds at the farmers market.  (Eliza Earle - Courtesy photo)
In addition to answering questions and purchasing merchandise, market staff at the information booth will assist customers in receiving SNAP and WIC funds at the farmers market. (Eliza Earle – Photo courtesy of)

Shopping at WIC

Shoppers who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infant, and Children (WIC) and live in Boulder County may receive at least $80 per month to spend at the farmers market. Twenty of these dollars will be WIC dollars, which can be used to purchase fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese and eggs. The remaining $60 are WIC vegetarian dollars, which can only be used to purchase fruits and vegetables.

If you receive Women, Infants and Children benefits and live in Boulder County but can’t get to in-person farmers markets, you can sign up for weekly free home delivery of local food. Every Tuesday, recipients receive a bag of local produce, plus eggs, beans, quinoa or an extra vegetable. Enrollment periods open every three months.

For residents who do not currently qualify for SNAP or WIC benefits, the Fruit & Veg program serves residents of Boulder or Longmont who experience food insecurity but do not have access to these programs. Participants register through partner organizations and receive coupons to spend at select retailers such as the Boulder or Longmont Farmers Market

WIC CSA bags are delivered to recipients by volunteers.  (Eliza Earle - Courtesy photo)
WIC CSA bags are delivered to recipients by volunteers. (Eliza Earle – Photo courtesy)

From farm to early care and education

In partnership with Boulder County Public Health, this program connects fresh, local food to child care centers and preschools across the county. Recipients can use the products however they want, but have reported a variety of uses, from meals and snacks to art projects. This exposes our youngest community members to what’s in season and gives them the opportunity to decorate pumpkins, eat fresh peaches and more.

Community Partnerships

We partner with local organizations, including OUR Center and CU Basic Needs Center, to provide increased quantities of locally grown food to food banks and family centers in our area. Last year, our Senior Citizen Program partnered with local senior living facilities to distribute fresh fruits and vegetables to 67 households living on a fixed income.

Additionally, due to the nature of fresh produce, there are times when leftover fruits and vegetables are at risk of going to waste. Our partners at Boulder Food Rescue and Longmont Food Rescue collect donations from every farmer’s market to get more fresh produce to our neighbors. Donations from our Food Hub go to Longmont Community Fridges. These public refrigerators are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and give people the opportunity to choose what food they want to take with them at any time.

The next time you’re at the Boulder or Longmont Farmers Markets, look for signs on each tent with information about what types of currencies they accept, and visit the information booth to learn more about how you can take advantage of our food access programs. For a complete overview of our programs, visit bcfm.org/about/foodaccess.

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